description from project proposal

Project Description, Goals and Benefit
Recording lectures and distributing audiovisual content in a variety of formats has become an everyday business for some institutions of higher education in Switzerland. On the one hand, this is the result of projects at individual institutions to provide an automated infrastructure to support producing, managing, and distributing audiovisual material and to offer the related service of recording lectures. On the other hand, SWITCH has provided and is still providing a federated service to help other institutions achieving similar results. As a consequence, the number of recorded lectures and the number of academic audiovisual objects overall has been and is still rising significantly.
This, in turn, discloses and highlights a number of problems and deficiencies that prevent the content from unfolding its academic value: A lack of standards prevents syndication and federation of content, the exchange of content is technically impeded in a heterogeneous academic environment and the long-term preservation of content is everything but safeguarded. Overall, the utilization is painfully restricted, especially when compared to the idea of a free exchange of audiovisual content across institutions and technological barriers. Additionally, the vision of creating a (teaching) knowledge pool is endangered by the ephemeral characteristics of formats, technologies and repositories.
To overcome these limitations is the main focus of this projects in that it aims at creating long-term solutions for the exchange of audiovisual objects: Standards, formats (WP5), and metadata (WP3) will have to be defined to foster the availability, interoperability and commutability of content across technological and institutional barriers - with an emphatically long-ranging perspective safeguarded by an archival strategy for audiovisual content (WP4). With regard to dissemination, the connection to the learning space has to be established (WP1) and technical aspects of accessing the material have to be clarified with a perspective on Open Access and the relevant legal aspects (WP2).
When it comes to audiovisual objects in academia, most of the problems seem to be solved already - or at least manageable matters, especially in Switzerland with an internationally acknowledged expertise in the working area. With a federated service provided by SWITCH (SWITCHcast), Open Source solutions developed at Fribourg (S.M.A.C.) and ETH Zurich (REPLAY) and the respective experience in Bern and Geneva, the field seems well explored today. However, this assumption misses two points: On the one hand, this assessment does not apply to the overall academic community where many institutions still find it hard to make their entry into the audiovisual world and need guidance not to waste their resources on investigating what has been investigated by others already. On the other hand, the institutions involved can be described as innovators in the working area. They therefore have to solve problems today other institutions will be facing at a later stage - unless this project successfully realizes a knowledge transfer that prevents the majority of institutions not only from wasting resources in the way described above, but also from following unpromising paths that innovators and early adopters typically take.
The challenges described above to unfold the intellectual value of audiovisual content, especially lecture recordings, call for more than what the project described here is all about. Project partners therefore consider the project at hand to be the first of two coordinated efforts to provide the necessary solutions. While this project is to analyse needs and status quo and to develop standards and technologies on an abstract level, a second, larger project will aim at implementing these. Its eventual goal has to be the actual exchange of audiovisual objects to overcome institutional barriers and a solution to their preservation. Partners will therefore submit a subsequent proposal when they consider the foundations to be established for an implementation (cf. milestones).
Expected Number of Users:
All Swiss institutions dealing with audiovisual content today or tomorrow will benefit from the results of this coordinated effort to clarify technical, administrative, legal and other issues in managing audiovisual objects, be that institutions of higher education, museums, organizations or schools. Take, for example, the University of Zurich with a growing number of lecture recordings: Like any SWITCHcast client, they would benefit from the clarifications being made to safeguard their material and participate in an exchange of content. Overall, with audio and especially video becoming ubiquitous on the internet, the solutions developed in this project must be relevant to almost anyone working with this kind of content.
"This project has been carried out as part of the "AAA/SWITCH - e-infrastructure for e-science" programme under the leadership of SWITCH, the Swiss National Research and Education Network, and has been supported by funds from the ETH Board, the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) and the Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology (OPET)."